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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Nov 29, 2020

Shrewsbury Runner Takes to the Course with a Generous Spirit and Community Support

By Shanna O'Mara

On a mission to run for a cause, one woman won’t let her age, a hip replacement or even a global pandemic stand in her way. Meet Shrewsbury’s Tracey McGee.

McGee, a mother of three and retail buyer for The TJX Companies Inc., admitted she was never particularly interested in running. She first laced up her shoes when her now-13-year-old son, Connor, was 1. The new parents had recently welcomed twins, Jack and Ryan, and with three babies in the house, McGee needed a release. When her husband, Keith, was home, she’d take a quick break from the diapers and run around the block. Then she did two. Then she ran a mile. Today, McGee has run 16 marathons across the globe – and she runs to raise money for causes she feels connected to and inspired by.

“I ran my first marathon in 2014, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C.,” the 47-year-old said. “I remember people on the course running for fallen soldiers, for charities. That really set the tone for my marathon running. I thought, ‘If I’m going to dedicate this much time and this much training to this, I’m not doing it for myself. If I finish this race, I’m going to continue to do this with a purpose.’ After crossing the finish line that day, I decided my goal was to give back $100,000 to charity.”

And in just six short years, McGee has crushed that goal. To date, she has raised $150,000 for individuals through the Fair Haven-based Lifeguard Ecumenical Foundation as well as for cancer research.

In 2019, McGee competed in the Boston Marathon as part of her Running for Ryan campaign, ultimately raising more than $12,000 to help Ryan Shaughnessy, a recent Red Bank Regional High School graduate, and his family in their battle against leukemia. This March, McGee was ready to travel to Toyko for another marathon, but the event was canceled just two weeks before. Having been raising money for breast cancer research, McGee said she “had to finish what I started.” McGee quickly found the Napa Valley Marathon and purchased a plane ticket on the spot. She competed days later with her fastest time, three hours and 45 minutes, and was able to donate more than $69,000 to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She did so in memory of Lori Ricciuti, her former boss’ wife who lost her battle to breast cancer two years ago, and in honor of Jen Robinson, a friend in Shrewsbury who is fighting the disease.

With her time in California, McGee qualified for the 2021 Boston Marathon. She has competed in this Massachusetts event several times, including in 2016 when her running career took a frightening turn.

“I was training for Boston and thought I pulled a muscle in my groin,” she said. “I kept running through the aches and pains. Two miles [into the race], I knew it was a problem. I was raising money for Massachusetts General Hospital that year, and ironically, after the race, I ended up in their emergency room.”

She was discharged to New Jersey for surgery. After meeting with Dr. Christopher Spagnuola of Seaview Orthopaedics, McGee knew she trusted him to perform her hip replacement. The surgery was successful, and McGee says her orthopedic surgeon “is the reason I can still do this.”

“As indebted as I am to Dr. Spagnuola for keeping me healthy and going, I’m incredibly grateful for my family,” she said. “Any marathon runner knows it’s early mornings and late nights. They’ve been nothing but supportive. My sons are always asking me what’s next, what cause.”

McGee said her neighbors and those in nearby towns have been just as enthusiastic about getting involved.

“The community around here has been so wonderful,” she said. “Donations come in from Little Silver, Shrewsbury, Rumson, Fair Haven. I think people have seen what I’ve done over the years, and they always ask, ‘When is the next race? When can I contribute?’ People want to give back. Sometimes they don’t know how to do it. In a way, I’ve given them a platform to give back. It’s for a person they might know. There’s a connection. The generosity has been overwhelming.”

 

 

Tree things to know about McGee:

  1. She has competed in five of the six World Marathon Majors, including in New York City, Chicago, Boston, London and Berlin. Toyko is the last she’ll cross off her list.
  2. Inspired by his mom’s selflessness, Connor McGee opted out of his birthday party one year and created a Toys for Tots giving campaign instead.
  3. Before hanging up her running shoes, Tracey said she wants to raise $300,000 for charity.